Comments Posted By brahma dasa

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Ocean of Mercy: Bhakti Benefits for Doomed Cows?

Drinking cows milk is a material activity that is not essential (absolutely necessary) for spiritual development. If drinking milk were an intrinsically spiritual act then all the children in the world who were raised on cow’s milk would be spiritually advanced–but we see that they are not.

Drinking milk, like other material activities becomes spiritualized in association with bhakti.

Bhakti is User Friendly–it can be introduced and thrive in almost any situation. Therefore it matters not whether the practitioner is a Republican or a Democrat, lives in the city or the country, prefers Beethoven or the Beatles, or is a lacto-vegetarian or a vegan—Bhakti can be effectively practiced by all.

That is our philosophy in a nutshell.

Certain material circumstances may be more favorable than others for the cultivation of bhakti, but all considered bhakti is independent and can exert her influence anywhere, on anyone, at any time. If this is true for animal killers like Mrigari the Hunter, than why not for those involved in saving animals—such as Vegans?

I’m not saying anything revolutionary here —nothing against cow’s milk or varnasrama— My point is simply that the practice of bhakti is compatible with a vegan diet. This is just common sense.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 17.04.2014 @ 18:30

The question is not whether prasadam is essential to the practice of Krsna consciousness, but whether milk is essential to the offering of prasadam. The answer is no—milk is not essential.

Bhakti is the essential ingredient of any offering to Krsna.

Srila Prabhupada said that along with patram puspam phalam toyam “some liquid–water or milk” should be offered. Therefore if for health or moral reasons one cannot offer milk than water offered with devotion will suffice.

Of course, it is imperative to save oneself first, but drinking milk is not the prerequisite to salvation in Krsna consciousness. Bhakti is the prerequisite to salvation; indeed bhakti and salvation in Krsna consciousness are synonymous.

Bhakti can save everyone—including Vegans.

That’s our philosophy.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 14.04.2014 @ 04:24

To Whom it may concern:

Chanting Hare Krsna is an essential principle of Krsna consciousness—offering and drinking milk is not.

In the quotes provided Srila Prabhupada cites-patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati. Then he says to “take ordinary very nutritious food within the jurisdiction of Krsna-prasada—-And: that within these categories, whatever a devotee offers Me (Krsna) in love and devotion, I eat— And: patram, means vegetables, flowers, fruits, and phalam, fruits, and some liquid, water or milk.”

While milk is in the “jurisdiction” or “category” of Krsna prasada it is not absolutely essential to the offering. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada says that either “water or milk “can be offered. Ultimately the essential ingredient to every offering is bhaktya prayacchati—not milk.

Srila Prabhupada preached in the 60’s and 70’s when vegetarianism in America was in its infancy. Now vegetarianism is considered respectable and the vegan movement, which was unknown in his time, is in the forefront of the campaign against animal cruelty.

Srila Prabhupada said, “We should tax our brains as to what is the best way to present Krsna Consciousness to a particular people at a particular time and place.” (lecture 11/13/70)

To most vegans consuming supermarket milk is an act in support of animal cruelty—and they do have a point. Therefore we should tax our brains to accommodate these particular people (vegans) in this particular time, to the best of our ability. We should let them know that drinking milk is not essential to the practice of bhakti; and we should preach the philosophy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and live it such, that persons attracted to a cruelty free diet will also be attracted to chanting the holy name of Krsna.

AGAIN: The practice of Krsna consciousness goes perfectly well with a cruelty free vegan diet.

Brahma Das (ACBSP)

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 12.04.2014 @ 19:49

Srila Prabhupada knew that in the west (and now in India) milk cows were routinely slaughtered. When informed that milk was fortified with fish oil (vitamin D) he put his hands up in resignation and said, “Everything here is contaminated so what can we do.”

Regardless of these drawbacks it is clear that Srila Prabhupada encouraged the offering and consumption of milk. This is because milk products, which make vegetarianism easier and more enjoyable, are an important aspect of his movement of chanting, dancing, and feasting–and of course the scriptures tell us that Krsna is fond of milk products.

The Gita (3.13) says that food offered in sacrifice is free from sin, and (4.24) tells us that a life of sacrifice burns up all sinful activities. So we accept that milk is purified when it is offered with genuine devotion to Krsna. However, not everyone involved in Krsna consciousness is leading a life of complete sacrifice to Visnu; neither is everyone offering all they eat in sacrifice.

Outside of sacrifice the Gita says there are reactions to the things that we do. Therefore we should always remember that cows and their calves are slaughtered to provide the food that we eat more for enjoyment than for nourishment i.e. store bought ice cream, pizza, etc. and rarely is any of this truly offered in sacrifice. Better yet, we should consider giving up these things.

Indeed, vegans occupy the high ground in this regard. While many of us routinely eat unoffered milk products, vegans forgo this in consideration of the cruelty involved. This is laudable.

All considered, it is not necessary to offer and consume milk in order to practice Krsna consciousness therefore vegans should be accommodated and encouraged–not condemned.


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 10.04.2014 @ 17:20

Devotees’ use commercially produced milk because it is a concession that was accepted by Srila Prabhupada—but it is not a rule. One does not have to drink or offer milk to practice Krishna consciousness. Bhagavad Gita 9.26 says that devotion (bhaktya prayacchati) is the essential element of any offering to Krsna—milk is not mentioned. Therefore it is not wrong for devotees to forgo commercially produced milk over the cruelty issue. Indeed, boycotting commercially produced milk is a practical way to display compassion for the plight of cows.

The idea that the tortured cows behind the supermarket milk offered to Krsna are benefited seems a bit of a stretch to me. If Srila Prabhupada specifically said this than someone should share the quote. Perhaps the efficacy of bhakti does come into play here—or are we simply rationalizing unnecessary cruelty by promoting this idea. It’s nice to think this…but is it respectable and virtuous to justify cruelty with such theology?


Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 08.04.2014 @ 19:35

Powerful Food For Thought

Devotee: Śrīla Prabhupāda, should we call all the women “mother”?

Prabhupāda: Yes. And treat it like mother. Not only call, but treat it like mother.

Morning Walk — October 25, 1975, Mauritius:

When I joined Iskcon in 1972 both male and female devotees referred to each other as prabhu. Sometime later in the 70’s (as per the above quote) the men were told that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to address all women as mataji.

So contrary to Visakha Priya dasi’s testimony (posted below) the use of ‘mataji’ was being used in Iskcon during Srila Prabhupada’s time. Indeed, the use of mataji is not generally used in gaudiya math, there the use of di di or sister is more common.

(btw. Pusta Krsna prabhu was with Srila Prabhupada on the above posted morning walk).

“Somehow, in the late nineteen eighties, the “Prabhu/Mataji” syndrome developed, probably as the result of many disgruntled ISKCON devotees taking shelter of India after their gurus’ falldowns. Previous to that, most devotees would only visit India at Gaura Purnima time and we would call one another “Prabhu,” regardless of gender consideration.(Visakha Priya dasi )”

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 18.04.2013 @ 18:24

Why Veganism in Iskcon does not work, part 2

Where are the sustainable eco-friendly Iskcon cow-protection farms?

The author of this article writes: “I have not actually been able to find a Vegan producing farmstyle that is sustainable and eco friendly that actually follows its credentials. All of the Vegans that I know just shop at supermarkets, their local grocer, a farm shop producing “organic” vegetables and etc.”

The same could be said about Iskcon farms i.e. I have not been able to find an Iskcon cow protection farm that is sustainable. All of the devotees that I know just shop at supermarkets, etc.

Case in point: I was involved in fund raising for an Iskcon farm in the late 1970’s. It had a thriving community and a magnificent commercial dairy herd. The problem was that in order to survive the community and the dairy herd required the support of collections from a team of brahmacaries who lived outside the farm on a bus. Now, forty years later, the farm’s grand commercial dairy is gone, devotees are employed outside the farm, and donations to support cow protection are solicited on the website. To my knowledge this is the situation facing all Iskcon farms.

Service on Iskcon farms is of course bhakti so there is nothing wrong with collecting donations etc. but if a collective farm requires the support of donations and outside employment to survive can it honestly be called a sustainable farm?

So practice what you preach. Create a truly sustainable eco-friendly cruelty free commercial dairy farm that can supply abundant milk to everyone and then implore vegans to drink the cruelty free milk that you offer.

Until then let vegans be vegans, and preach the philosophy of Mahaprabhu and live it such that persons attracted to adopting a cruelty free diet will also be attracted to chanting the holy name of Krsna.

AGAIN: The practice of Vaisnavism goes perfectly well with a cruelty free vegan diet.

Brahma dasa

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 28.03.2013 @ 01:33

Amino acids are different than vitamins. The Oxford American dictionary puts it like this: Amino acids are organic compounds that occur naturally in plant and animal tissues and are the basic constituents of proteins.

Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body. Vitamin B12 is a microbe/bacteria produced by microorganisms in the soil.

Suffice to say that doctors and nutritionists believe that an unfortified vegan diet is deficient in essential vitamin B-12, which supports the theory that humans are naturally omnivorous—meant to eat both plants and animals or animal products such as milk.

Still, a vegan diet fortified by B-12 may be healthier than a lacto-vegetarian diet because cholesterol which is mainly derived from animal fat (milk products) contributes to a number of health problems particularly atherosclerosis.

The point is—BALANCE—in both diet and preaching and that’s the problem with this article—-a complete lack of balance, which makes it appear unreasonable and fanatic even to devotees.

AGAIN, there is nothing wrong with a Vaisnava following a vegan diet and boycotting the modern dairy industry. Along with B-12 all a vegan has to do is add Krsna consciousness to his life in order to make it completely perfect.

Brahma dasa

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 21.03.2013 @ 20:26

Vegan diets have been linked to a multitude of health benefits including lowered cancer and heart disease risks and low blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity rates.

A well-planned vegan diet is generally low in saturated fat, void of cholesterol and high in plant nutrients but it’s true that one essential vitamin the diet is deficient in is B12. This vitamin generally found in animal products (such as milk) is used by the human body to create DNA and keep red blood cells and nerve cells healthy. Vegans can get this vitamin from fortified cereals, brewers yeast, tofu and other sources including supplements.

So a case can be made that human beings are naturally meant to eat animals or animal products, indeed the fact that humans have two canine teeth support the notion that they are naturally meant to eat meat. While the body can certainly be sustained by a carnivorous diet devotees are interested in more than mere maintenance, they are interested in developing the quality of mercy in order to make spiritual advancement. Indeed, the the quality of mercy is essential to genuine spiritual practice.

Devotees cultivate mercy by following a lacto-vegetarian prasadam diet and vegans cultivate mercy by following a pure vegetarian diet. Devotees who don’t have access to cruelty-free milk may as there conscience dictates follow a vegan prasadam diet in protest to the cruelty of factory farming. By not drinking milk they practice a different form of cow protection, one that discourages the breeding of animals for slaughter.

All considered the cultivation of the quality of Mercy is the common ground between devotees and vegans. This should be respected by both parties and built upon, and until devotees can provide cruelty-free milk there is no need to preach to vegans to become lacto-vegetarians. Instead let Vegans be vegans and inspire them to be Vaisnavas through purity of devotion.

Again, Vaisnavism is perfectly compatible with a vegan diet.

Brahma dasa

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 21.03.2013 @ 01:15

Mercy/cruelty free–a universal religious principle

Animal slaughter/meat eating is one of the four pillars of sinful life. This practice destroys ‘mercy’ and is so much more harmful then the other pillars that Srila Prabhupada said that if a disciple resumed their old sinful habits (intoxication, illicit sex etc.) he or she should still be considered a Vaisnava unless they ate meat.

Devotees have always preached against animal slaughter but it was PETA and similar secular organizations that were most successful in packaging and promoting the message throughout mainstream society because the concept of being ‘cruelty free’ resonates with everyone. It transcends economic/political/religious divisions and has made the vegan lifestyle fashionable worldwide. WHY?

Because being ‘cruelty free’ or merciful to other living entities is a universal religious, spiritual, and ethical principle, one that Vaisnavas have cherished and promoted since the beginning of time.

That’s why diatribes like these two embarrassing articles against Vegans in Iskcon are ill conceived.

While devotees differ with many vegans on details, the practice of Vaisnavism remains perfectly compatible with a vegan diet, and Vaisnavas are 100% in agreement with the principle of MERCY to animals, which is the foundation of the vegan movement.

Brahma dasa

Comment Posted By brahma dasa On 20.03.2013 @ 01:31


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